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Rex’s Recipes: Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb, with a Little Help from Perrotti’s Butcher in Far Hills, New Jersey

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Way back when Rex and I were first living together in NYC’s West Village, we would occasionally attend a “celebrity chef” cooking class at Macy’s DeGustibus program. Rex paid close attention to the recipes and preparation, while I enjoyed one delicious meal after the next.  On one such occasion, we had the good fortune of cooking with Patrick O’Connell, the chef and proprietor of the Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, and taking home one of my all-time favorite recipes:  Pistachio Crusted Grilled Baby Lamb Chop with Carrot Ginger Essence.

This past Saturday, as part of our weekend-long celebration of our tenth anniversary, Rex decided to prepare a rack of lamb for our Bay Head neighbors, Jango and Dorothy Parker, who provided the wine (including an amazing 30 year old cabernet) for our festive evening.  After a perfect anniversary dinner at the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, NJ on Friday night, we started our Saturday in the Roxiticus Valley. Rex usually gets his racks of lamb from Louie at the Chester Meat Market, but since we were travelling through Far Hills to get to the beach, I reminded him to give Perrotti’s a try.

So I’m going to start with Patrick O’Connell’s “incredibly sophisticated” recipe (Rex’s notes on the recipe from 1996), and take you through step-by-step, along with lots of photos, how Rex applied it to a beautiful rack of lamb from Perrotti’s Butcher Shop in Far Hills, New Jersey. 

For the Lamb:

3 racks of lamb, about 1 1/2 pounds each with the bones frenched (remember, O’Connell is using BABY lamb chops in his recipe, while Perrotti’s provided much larger racks for Rex’s execution)

  • 2 cups pistachios, lightly toasted and finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Mustard Brown Sugar Glaze:

  • 2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 cups dijon mustard

For the Carrot Ginger Essence:

  • 4 cups organic carrot juice (we picked ours up at the Far Hills Pharmacy)
  • 2 tablespoons Creme fraiche
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

To make the Brown Sugar Glaze:

  1. Combine sugar and mustard in a bowl and mix with a whisk until thoroughly combined
  2. Store refrigerated.  This can be made several days ahead of time.

To make the Carrot Ginger Essence:

  1. In a two-quart saucepan, reduce the carrot juice by half.  Remove from heat.
  2. Using either a whisk or a handheld blender, add in the creme fraiche.  Add ginger and season with salt.  Allow the ginger to steep for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Strain before using.  This sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance and held in the refrigerator.

To make the Lamb:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (Rex used our outdoor grill)
  2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill or broil the lamb enough to crisp and lightly char the exterior on all sides.
  4. Remove from the grill and brush with the Mustard Brown Sugar Glaze.  Place in a roasting pan and finish baking for about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and brush the lamb again with the glaze.  Dip it in the ground pistachios, and return to the oven for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

To serve:

  1. Slice the racks into individual chops.
  2. Place in the center of the plate.  Splash the carrot sauce around the lamb.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Far Hills, NJ, or the greater Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, Bernardsville, Chester, Somerset or Morris County), you can count on Perrotti’s for your rack of lamb. M&M Perrotti’s is located in the Far Hills Center, next to Country Curtains (in the sadly missed Romo Books location), 27 Route 202 South. Phone: (908) 306-8806. Please don’t forget to tell Mario that Roxy sent you! Hours are Monday-Wednesday & Friday from 9:00am to 6:00pm, Thursday from 9:00am to 7:00pm, Saturday from 8:00am to 4:00pm, closed Sunday.

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